Theaster Gates partners with Prada group to launch incubator for emerging color designers
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At the height of a cultural calculation that revealed the lack of diversity in the design professions, artist Theaster Gates continued his decades-long quest to create space, both literal and abstract, for black creatives. and browns. Gates, who co-chairs Prada’s Diversity and Inclusion Board, is leading a new path for under-recognized and under-represented design talent with the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, launched today.
In partnership with the Prada group and the Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, the artist is the pioneer of a three-year incubator for emerging color designers in the fields of furniture, industry, fashion and graphic design. . Dorchester Industries’ Experimental Design Lab will invest, develop and amplify the work of young and emerging designers and creatives across the country.
“Color practitioners grow up when they have the opportunity to do, debate and ask tough questions inside and outside of their fields,” says Gates. AD PRO. “If people are forced to work alone and in silos, this development often takes longer. It is so important that we share our experiences, relationships and resources with the next generation.
It’s a mission Gates has invested in since founding the Rebuild Foundation in 2009 to nurture creative communities in Chicago’s under-invested neighborhoods with artistic programming and the revitalization of abandoned properties. Continuing his mission further, he launched Dorchester Industries, the design and manufacturing arm of Theaster Gates Studio, in 2016 to strengthen the design community in the South Chicago neighborhood. With an apprenticeship program that pairs interested community members with local carpenters, artists and landscape architects, Dorchester Industries uses locally sourced materials, such as trees damaged by destructive forest pests, to produce quality products, from furniture to hardwood floors.
For its inaugural year, the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab will host public programming anchored in the South Side of Chicago, with activations in New York and Los Angeles. Nominated by luminaries in all design disciplines, participating designers will receive financial support through the Design Lab Awards, and winners will have the opportunity to tap into a strong network of design leaders. The program’s inaugural class will be announced in October.
This latest development follows the revelation that Gates will become the first non-architect to design London’s Serpentine Pavilion in 2022. The multi-hyphenated designer has long used his background as a ceramicist, sculptor and urban planner to demonstrate the impact of ambitious cultural initiatives on the south side of Chicago. Driven by his study of space theory, he salvaged and transformed abandoned structures into visually striking community assets for artists, designers and local residents.
“For too long, our creative communities had the talent, but lacked visibility and opportunity,” says Gates. “Now more than ever, today’s top creatives need to elevate the work of emerging color designers and connect them to large companies interested in diverse talent. “